Eleventh-hour draft questions


The NFL draft works as great television because it's the ultimate reality show. This year's draft, more than any other in recent memory, is wide open.

We haven't had a first round with so many big names and this much uncertainty since 2004. There are usually a few benchmarks we "know" going into draft day that folks can build their mock drafts around. We don't know anything this year, and that's a beautiful thing. Thursday night promises to be all surprises because there are so few expectations.

Before all the pre-draft rumors and buzz turn into actual news, we've got a few of our most pressing last-minute questions:

How serious are the Texans about trading the No. 1 pick?

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The more we hear, the more it sounds like Houston would legitimately like to get an offer to move down in the first round. Sure, their asking price for public consumption sounds high. We're more intrigued by Texans GM Rick Smith saying he's getting increasingly legitimate offers, and St. Louis Rams GM Les Snead saying most teams are calling Houston at No. 1, not calling St. Louis.

The Khalil Mack-Houston drumbeat has been significant enough to raise legitimate hope that Houston will trade out of the pick.

Has the Johnny Manziel-Rams connection been a smokescreen all along?

We'll know the answer to this question early. If the Rams really wanted Manziel, they wouldn't wait around to No. 13 to see if he was still sticking around. One report suggests that Sam Bradford was told all along that the Rams' interest in Manziel was a smokescreen. NFL Media's Michelle Beisner denied that was true on-air Thursday.

Will Christian Ponder cost the Minnesota Vikings twice?

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If all the pre-draft buzz is to be believed, the Vikings are gun-shy about drafting a quarterback at No. 8. It's possible that Vikings general manager Rick Spielman, who is on the hot seat this week, is afraid to take another quarterback this high in the draft after swinging and missing on Ponder three years ago.

Minnesota has flown under the radar throughout draft season, but the Vikings desperately need a quarterback and they have an opportunity under new offensive coordinator Norv Turner to finally create an offensive identity. This is a roster where all of the pieces haven't necessarily matched up in the past. 

Could the Arizona Cardinals have their pick of the litter at quarterback?

We've thrown around a handful of bold predictions about this draft, so let's do one more. We can imagine Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater all being available for Arizona when they are up to draft at No. 20.

Conversations about quarterbacks don't automatically mean genuine interest in quarterbacks. As the draft draws closer, even the most plugged-in reporters and analysts have no clue which teams truly want to take one of the big three quarterbacks. One relatively simple answer: No teams are ready to take them early.

In a draft that was once billed as wildly deep at quarterback, it's possible that all the other positions will dominate the first half of Thursday night's first round.

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